Spanish State Visit
The British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, has welcomed the announcement of a State Visit to the United Kingdom from 6th - 8th June 2017.
"In this Sapphire Jubilee celebration year for Her Majesty the Queen, I am delighted that Their Majesties King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain have accepted her invitation to visit the UK" said Mr Manley.
"This State Visit will celebrate not only the long and deep royal and historic ties between our two countries, but also our strong relationship as partners bilaterally, within Europe and on the global stage. We enjoy close connections in terms of culture, commerce, education, science and innovation. This is an opportunity to celebrate and deepen those links."
The Ambassador was speaking from Santander, where he is touring Northern Spain to promote education, tourism and investment in the UK.
The UK and Spain are close partners in NATO and United Nations and numerous international organisations. We also continue to cooperate in the European Union and once we leave the EU we want to strengthen our strong and constructive bilateral relationship with Spain. The two countries are also major partners in trade, with 40bn GBP of trade in 2015, including British goods and services worth almost 15bn GBP exported to Spain and imports from Spain to the UK worth 25bn GBP.
Nearly 300,000 Britons are registered as residents in Spain and 18 million visitors came from the UK last year, whilst more than 132,000 Spaniards are resident in the UK and two million visited in 2015.
We share close educational connections, with nearly 11,000 Spanish students studying at UK universities and 50,000 students attending British schools in Spain.
This is the first State Visit by King Felipe and Queen Letizia to the UK and they will stay at Buckingham Palace. The programme will be announced in due course. The last State Visit was when King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia visited in 1986. HM Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh returned with a State Visit to Spain in 1988. Since then the Spanish and British royal families have paid a number of formal visits to each other's countries.
In 2002, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia attended the annual Order of the Garter Ceremony at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, including a dinner at Windsor Castle given by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.
In 2011, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall paid a three-day official visit to Spain that was hosted by Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia. A few weeks later Queen Sofia, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia attended the wedding in London of Prince William to Catherine Middleton.
The British and Spanish Royal Families are directly related through the marriage of Alfonso XIII of Spain to Princess Victoria Eugenia, known as Ena, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, in 1906. Victoria Eugenia is the great-grandmother of King Felipe.
Jail For Fugitive Tax Fraudster
A runaway tax fraudster is starting a six year jail sentence, after being extradited back to the UK from Spain by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for failing to repay £1.5 million.
South African Leib Berger, 53, previously known as Lawrence Goldberg, was originally jailed for two years in September 2011 for stealing more than £1 million through a self-assessment tax fraud. Posing as a nominated tax agent, he hijacked innocent people's identities and invented other clients to send fraudulent tax returns to HMRC.
In December 2012, he was ordered to repay £249,999 by December 2013 or receive a default prison sentence of 16 months. In an attempt to escape justice Berger fled to Spain. While he was at large, investigations by HMRC revealed he had further assets and in September 2015 the confiscation order was increased to £1.5 million. A month later the default prison sentence was amended to six years.
Berger was tracked down and arrested in Spain on 7th February and he was extradited back to the UK on Tuesday 21st February.